New Orleans OKs payment, retention plan for EMS, police

EMTs will get $1,500 each and paramedics will get $4,500; NOPD officers will receive $5,000 for every five years they have served and can get other bonuses


By Matt Sledge
The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Police Department officers and other public safety workers are set to receive big bonus payments after a plan from Mayor LaToya Cantrell received City Council approval on Thursday.

The council vote capped a winding path to victory for Cantrell's signature proposal to reduce NOPD attrition, which got bogged down for months by questions about its legality. Council members gave the plan unanimous approval, despite lingering concerns that it might speed, rather than slow NOPD attrition.

The bonuses will be given in a year.
The bonuses will be given in a year. (Photo/ New Orleans Emergency Medical Services)

Under the pay plan, one year from now NOPD officers will receive $5,000 for every five years they have served on the force, rising to a $20,000 payout for cops with 20 years of experience. Going forward, cops would receive $5,000 bonus payments every time they notch another five years.

The NOPD has 155 officers with up to five years of service, 167 with 5-9 years, 320 with 10-19 years, 236 with 20-29 years and 98 officers with 30 or more years, according to a data dashboard.

Employees in select other departments are in line for one-time bonus payouts. EMTs would get $1,500 payments after a year, paramedics would get $4,500, juvenile jail guards would get $3,500, and auto mechanics would get $3,500.

City employees will have to wait a year until they start receiving the payments. That provision is meant to motivate them to remain on the job at a time when the city is struggling to fill vacancies.

The bonuses are part of a larger recruitment and retention package from the Cantrell administration, which officials have said will cost $18 million in the first two years.

Claude Schlesinger, a representative of the Fraternal Order of Police, urged the council to pass an amendment aimed at getting cops their payouts in March, one year from when Cantrell first proposed the bonus. However, District A Council member Joe Giarrusso, a sponsor of the incentive plan, said it was too late to make such a change at this meeting, but it could be considered later.

Despite widespread agreement among local elected officials that something needs to be done to beef up the NOPD, Cantrell's bonus plan remained in limbo for months. Initially, one police officer organization warned that the bonus payments might actually speed up officer loss if cops treat them as severance packages.

Meanwhile, the Civil Service Commission gave its approval only after a direct appeal from Cantrell, and contingent upon an opinion from state Attorney General Jeff Landry that the payments did not run afoul of the Louisiana Constitution.

Separately, District B Council member Lesli Harris is advancing a plan for across-the-board, annual police pay raises. The proposal is currently under study by the Civil Service Department.

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(c)2022 The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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